We woke up with sunrise, on the banks of a small sand island, covered with some wild grass and a few trees. There were birds on our lines and on the shore. I stepped off the boat for a brief walk, and encountered some very friendly & excited water buffalo, which had waded across from a nearby island. I made it back on to the boat before they reached me, and they grazed and bounced around where I had just been.
Ramadan cooks our meals, three meals per day. Breakfast is always eggs, western-style bread, fig jam, a hard cheese with peppercorns in it, fruit, and coffee or tea. Lunch is usually a salad of fresh vegetables, some kind of hummus or baba ganoush, flatbread called eish baladi, sometimes soup, and sometimes this marvelous feta. Dinner always involved soup, eish baladi, stew, fresh vegetables, and a dessert. It is hard to get used to another person cooking and cleaning for you, but they insist. Even though the boat is very open, it feels quite private when you are nearly alone in the water.
Following our breakfast, we waited for the wind to pick up, to no avail. A passing tug let us throw a line to them, and pulled us around a bend and into the wind. Ramadan and Basem had insisted that we only relax on the first day, but they let us sit the helm and adjust the sails on the second day. Egypt’s pollution problem feels less present on the water, it is beautiful and relatively clear.
Charles was at the helm for a couple of hours, and I think Ramadan and Basem started to trust him enough that they relaxed and dozed. Charles and I made a few navigational decisions (essentially, whether to pass a couple of islands to port or starboard). After about an hour Ramadan woke up, looked around, and quickly woke up Basem. They were both laughing and laughing – apparently we had gone a route that was “so 10 years ago” – but they navigated us through it and we got back on course.
After our lunch, I took the helm, as we sailed past Gebel el-Silsila, quarry site for Karnak, Kom Ombo, and many others. It also has shrines dotting the river, carved into the rocks. Sailing past the quarry and shrines was really a highlight, pushed right up against the water, so dramatic, and with no modern surroundings.
Right before sunset, we lost the wind, so we pushed in near to shore to make and eat dinner. After the sun was down, the stars were bright, and the wind returned. Basem and Ramadan asked if we were ready to sleep or sail, and we chose sail. It was incredible how well Basem knew the water – the moon was slender, and the stars were bright but not illuminating, but we made quick and confident headway under Basem’s directions. We sailed for hours after dark, until the halyard snapped, and we caught a quick tow to shore to sleep.